Unexpected Wine Finds

These off-the-beaten local restaurants and other food and wine spots have surprisingly toast-worthy wine lists

by | Jan 1, 2023

Wine and charcuterie at Grandiflora Wine Garden in Norfolk

Dionysus could dine sumptuously in Coastal Virginia, given the breathtaking depth and breadth of nationally acclaimed wine programs at River Stone Chophouse and Vintage Tavern, Eurasia and Byrd & Baldwin (where the god likely would lease a wine locker – oops, make that wine condominium—at its adjacent Cellars on Tazewell and entertain a special someone in its secluded, subterranean Cork Room, housing just one two-top by a fireplace). But many below-the-radar establishments tender wine lists that are toast-worthy, too, and for a host of reasons. Here are just five that defy expectation:

Grandiflora Wine Garden
All of the wines at this enchanting inn in the Chelsea neighborhood of Norfolk are farmed organically following ethical practices to help preserve land and community; a natural pairing with its all-vegetarian fare (on weekend mornings, the wine garden turns into a tea garden with a marvelous Turkish breakfast). GrandifloraWine.com

Yorgo’s Bageldashery
Veuve Clicquot at a bagel shop? “We’re a best-kept secret,” say the bagelristas about the recently-unveiled “Topside Café” Fri.-Sun.) on the second floor of Yorgo’s location on Colonial Ave. in Norfolk and its small, thoughtful selection of reds, whites and sparklers, with Zardetto Vino Frizzante Private Cuvee on tap and in mimosas. Word must be spreading like a cream cheese schmear, though, given the weekend crowd hashtagging “daydrinkingistrending.” YorgosBageldashery.com

Baked Bistro & Pizza
Baked is a neighborhood restaurant-cum-wine shop (on Wine Street!) so you don’t just read about bottles, you can see and touch them. And since oenophiles insist that the best way to learn about wine is to become acquainted with a wine merchant, this Hampton spot is one of our picks for vino virgins. It offers not only a lovely selection of starter wines, but also a related donut shop next door if you want to get really glazed! BakedBistroHampton.com

Meyhane Kitchen & Bar
From the owners of Anatolia Bar and Grill, this Mediterranean restaurant in Williamsburg, deriving its name from Persian for wine (meh) and house (khaneh), displays a high compatibility quotient between wine and cuisine. Milieu, too. The predominantly Greek and Turkish list (everything available by bottle or glass), annotated with playful descriptions and pairings, features organics, orange wines and rosés. Bosinakis Moschofilero Rosé 2020, a “patio rosé” seems made for Meyhane’s sun-dappled terrace. MeyhaneWilliamsburg.com

Mermaid Winery
Even though Wine Spectator bestowed its Best of Award of Excellence on both locations, in Norfolk’s Ghent and on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach, Mermaid Winery deserves a spot on this roster of surprises as many people still think that Virginia’s first urban winery serves only the labels it produces. Think again. Its mind-blowing array of offerings, from half bottles to large formats, spans the globe with deep dives into France and California. MermaidWinery.com

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